Map Business Online Blog

Read about business mapping and how it can help your business succeed.

The Power of Zip Codes in Radius Maps

Perhaps the most popular request we field, from Map Business Online prospective customers, is the request for radius maps. It’s no wonder Pythagoras discovered his geometric theorems early on, because the world was impatiently waiting to conduct marketing and sales analysis based on varying radii from a central point.

And that is all a radius map is – a line drawn from a central point that becomes the radius of a circle against a map back ground.

Why A Circle?
Well, I suppose no one really knows why a circle is such a popular map object. Perhaps it’s because the mind seeks the symmetry a perfect circle provides. Or maybe it’s because our natural world is full of circles – the sun, the full moon, rings in a pond where a rock has dropped, or a Massachusetts highway rotary (they always make an impression.) But I think circles work well because they offer a multi directional, equidistant area for a data search. A radius search works quite well for place of business analysis unless your retail store is located at the end of a pier built off of a peninsula. If this is the case, a rectangle may be a more appropriate shape for market analysis.

Zip Codes in a Circle
Everybody wants to find zip codes within a radius.In many cases, a business map user will query their customer, prospect or competitor data using radius maps, but quite often they want to query zip codes. Zip codes are nice to query because they easily correlate Census demographic data to your business analysis – and this is the case with our business mapping software. I think zip code maps are also an area measure many of us can relate to locally. We are generally familiar with the zip codes around where we work or live. Therefore measuring data in terms of those well understood districts can add a personal and perhaps visual component to digital analysis – and thus a local zip code may serve as a reasonable baseline for comparison of non familiar areas.

At any rate, it is not unusual for a retail chain, a restaurant, a real estate company, a health care org, or a nonprofit, to wonder how many customers, patients, or properties they have within a circle of zip codes. By including population totals or other demographic measures of the same area, the analysis is enhanced.

Keep in mind, there is a difference between the exact amount of data points within a circle’s area and the amount of data points within that circle’s zip codes. The zip code query will contain all the zips touched by the circle line. The actual area of the collected zip codes will therefore extend beyond the circle area. So, for example, population counts will tend to reflect the zip code area, not the exact circle area.

“Like a circle in a circle, like a wheel within a wheel.”
Further circular interest comes from customers interested in concentric circle analysis. Here, a marketing or sales analysis might start at one radius, say ten miles, and then extend out to twenty-five miles, and then perhaps fifty miles. Concentric circles can help describe the rate of change in customer retention as a function of distance from a store or point-of-reference. In some cases a drive time polygon, where radius distance is replaced by the time it takes to drive in any direction on the map road network, can be very helpful as well. A concentric circle or drive time analysis might answer the question, “For the Thomas Crown Affair pizza delivery company, what is the total population I can serve within a 10 to 25 mile radius or a 15 minute delivery drive time?”

I’ve seen concentric circle analysis also used for event planning where organizations desire to match potential attendee proximities with facility capabilities. Overlapping circles denote areas of audience overlap that might recommend possible shifts in a marketing effort. Thus a marketing direct mail/email campaign can be segmented by radius search results and help fill an event to capacity without overflow.

I’ve also seen concentric circles used to excess where maps look more like Spirograph art than business mapping objects intended for analysis. Always seek to keep your map relatively clean. Too much data, too much analysis, may indicate you require another approach.

So, as you consider web mapping product, review the map tools’ radius search capabilities. That map view showing a circle of zip codes just may be of interest to your boss.

Www.MapBusinessOnline.com America’s fastest growing business mapping software.

Let a map help you learn about your business.

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Are You Ready for Complex Business Mapping?

Business maps help solve business problems. That’s why businesses are willing to pay a little for the right business mapping software – one that solves a particular business challenge. The right tool for the job. For many web map users the problem could be pretty straight forward – the visualization of customer locations, or establishing clearly defined sales territories. But for some users business challenges can require more complex mapping approaches.

“You Can’t Get a Man With a Gun”
Irving Berlin, in Annie Get Your Gun, understood that you had to apply the appropriate tool, in the right way, to solve a problem. A mapping application offers more than one “gun” in its array of tools.

Complex business problems may require more creative map solutions to achieve the results you seek. By mastering individual processes you can build more complex solutions for solving bigger business challenges. As you conduct product reviews of business mapping software processes look for spatial query, drive time analysis, optimized routing, zip code gathering, and demographic analysis. Here are some things to consider that might make your mapping approach more effective in the long run.

Slow Down and Experiment
Like anything else, haste makes waste. Or as my grandmother used to say, “Godfrey! If you take it at that speed deary you’ll end up in the hospital.”

We all get excited to use new software, especially if we get effective results right off the bat. With maps and data visualization it helps to think through the problem a bit first. Don’t be afraid to break your business processes down into sections and focus on individual parts which could expose a solution that might prove effective in other areas.

For example, you might find the same geographic analysis that identifies effective direct mail campaign techniques could also be applied to some of your sales campaigns. Or you might be importing a half dozen data sets that could be consolidated into one or perhaps two databases.

I recently spoke to a customer in fuel delivery who was so excited to solve his business problems using mapping software that he imported every business data set he could find – sales, vehicles, delivery schedules, competition, and more – and created an extremely busy map that no one could understand. He came to me looking for a way to better organize his data. I suggested he create multiple maps – don’t try to solve all your problems with one map.

A Swiss Army Knife
Business mapping software is multifaceted. By mastering the various aspects of the overall software you can apply several geographic tools to your workplace challenge.

For instance, fine tune your data visualization approach by consolidating like data sets and assigning classifications in one column. In addition to color coded symbolization, you may be able to query those like records by territory in one pass, vastly improving the effectiveness of your sales territory mapping plan. And those territories that you build and maintain will be better informed by your imported and classified data.

Another example is related to the idea of using a business mapping software to create color coded demographic maps by zip code or county. Such a map can expose population segments by age or income that might present appropriate guidelines for sales territory creation or sales campaign planning. Consider using demographic maps as templates upon which to build other maps.

A map template is simply a map view that you label and save. Your map template should be a basic depiction of your business area that might include demographics, customer base, and branch locations. When you want to expand upon that map view you open the map, add layers, or tweak the view in some way, than save a new map based on the changes you made, while preserving the original map view for future use. Map templating requires some thought and careful map saving. Take it slow and you will find this to be a valuable approach.

Query, Filter, Search
Your imported data is what makes mapping software particularly useful. Just seeing it geographically is both informative and cool. Moreover, searching your data geographically helps your business managers to plan. Business mapping software typically provides multiple ways to search your own data.

A spatial search lets you create a geometric shape around your data and save that subset of your data bounded by the object. You should be able to further search or filter your data for specific records, or records from number X to number Y, or records within a certain zip code, county or state. As you work with these various querying approaches you will develop ways to expose data points that support your particular business process. For example, a call center inside sales rep can use geographic queries to isolate customers or prospects within a specified area for a campaign and then further segment that list to follow-up by zip code, perhaps coordinating with a traveling outside sales person.

Complex mapping isn’t as complex if you break it down into its individual components. Like anything else, it takes time, or, as my grandmother used to say, “Where in God’s name is your grandfather?” and he’d show up eventually – just like your complex mapping skills.

Www.MapBusinessOnline.com America’s fastest growing business mapping software.

Let a map help you learn about your business.

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Is Your Business Mapping Software Fun?

The Rick Triangle

This is a serious and important question. Let’s face it. Life is short. Garrisson Keillor quoted from Maxine Kumin, last week on http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org, “Our ground time here will be brief.”
So, if you can turn some of your daily drudgery or just plain business time, as the case may be, into fun then for heaven’s sake do it. Mapping software should be fun.

Some of you come to digital maps intimidated by learning new software, or perhaps you’re only interested in completing a map for a project that’s due. That is completely understandable, and I hope you find our software easy to learn and it helps you complete that project. But, after that’s behind you have some fun with your map tools.

What are fun things to do with maps? Well we believe using mapping software to get new perspectives on your business is fun – visualizing customers or competitors, building territories, and planning sales trips are all fun processes with the right software. But here are some other ideas:

• Import a list of all the hotels you stay at. This means you have to keep track of them but if you travel frequently looking at a map of where you’ve been can be very interesting.
• My father (Rick) never was much of a traveler. He has a home on the coast of Massachusetts. While I was growing up, my Dad restricted his travels to his parents’ home (while they were living at the time) and the family ancestral farm in Maine. We called his area of interest The Rick Triangle. It would be fun to map that.
• Remember to view any map you create against a background of aerial imagery. Imagery can provide a unique perspective for your business or personal maps. I recent noticed Google Maps had upgraded their imagery and found they have displayed my backyard garden in surprising detail. That’s fun.

It Comes With the Territory
Lately I’ve had quite a few customers, faced with building sales territory maps, tell me how much fun using our business mapping software is. This is no surprise to me. Having been in sales management for decades selling mapping software I understand the need and intimidation involved in creating and managing sales territories. I talk to many sales administrators who are tasked with the job of creating the territory maps using software. Once they’ve made the leap and reviewed a few software options, they start actually building the maps. And they often find themselves enjoying the process. I think this is in part due to the nature of digital mapping (it is fun), but it is also related to fact that by applying the right software tools, their tasks – once formidable design problems – have become actually achievable. And better still they look like heroes.

People Who Need People
Digital maps have become background layers for data visualization. These data layers reveal patterns in our business and in our world. I see digital map mash ups posted daily in my social media news feeds. Mapping software makes it easy for a business person to view and analyze demographics with respect to geographic areas. Once you get the hang of it, creating national or local demographic maps that expose opportunities in your retail business future, or perhaps show where your competitors have an edge, can be fun.

For example, if you’re a newly single guy in your fifties (for reasons we shall not go into) and you really want to “get back out there” in the dating world, you can use your business mapping software to import all of the Denny’s restaurants located in zip codes with the highest percentage of 30 to 40 year old single women. Then you can create an efficient vehicle route that saves gas as you systematically dine at Denny’s locations within 25 miles of your Extended-Stay hotel room. Hint: Don’t forget to take the Bluetooth ear piece out of your ear while you eat.

I hope this is proof enough that business mapping software is not only helpful and informative but a lot of fun. Now I’ve got to go find a cheap place to eat…

Www.MapBusinessOnline.com America’s fastest growing business mapping software.

Let a map help you learn about your business.

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Five Ways Territory Mapping Software Will Improve Your Business

You may be a manager in a large business or an owner of a small business, either way an investment in territory mapping software can help your business grow and grow faster. Let’s review how.

Territory Maps Define and Enforce Accountability
One of the reasons man invented maps was to show boundaries. Bosses from Alexander the Great to Warren Buffet want to see clear boundaries describing their areas of influence. It’s the same with your business. You don’t need two sales reps arguing over a piece of business because they’re not sure whose responsibility it is. Use a web-based mapping service to define their areas of responsibility.

Clearly defined territories help to determine sales responsibility over critical accounts. By displaying all customer locations against territory maps sales managers can develop Customer Decision Maker flow charts that show geographically where spending/buying decisions are made. By tracking sales by decision maker location you can define revenue hot spots and more appropriately assign account responsibility. It might not make sense to send your best sales person to Grand Junction every month if the purchasing decisions are made consistently in Denver.

Territory Maps Organize Prospecting Campaigns
Marketing and sales operations are always dreaming up new campaigns. These could be product presentations, direct mail campaigns or a sales contest. A business mapping software allows your sales and marketing directors to easily control their campaigns geographically by creating marketing territories. Popular examples include direct mail test areas, call center callout campaigns to a metro-region, or radius zip code map established at X miles from a hotel event.

By establishing smaller campaign territories marketing and sales managers can test different approaches on a limited basis and tweak future approaches based on results. Such testing can save big chunks of your marketing budget. And ultimately, testing by geographic segment can mean the difference between a failed campaign and a runaway success.

Sales Territory Mapping Software Addresses Overlap in Sales Coverage
Few companies choose to have overlapping sales coverage but let’s face it – sometimes overlap is simply necessary. Good territory mapping software understands this reality. You should be able to adjust settings within your software to allow or disallow sales overlap. Hopefully your territory tool let’s you easily identify those overlap areas. This is necessary because overlap can cause confusion like double coverage or no coverage at all. By keeping overlap front and center in the sales conversation – making it a regular topic at meetings – your team will be aware of the overlap and will work to extract the best sales possible result from the situation.

Possible reasons for overlap in my experience include: legacy relationships, highly technical customer requirements that warrant the most experienced representatives, or physical proximity to other accounts. Whether or not overlap is appropriate is not the mapping software’s problem. We must admit overlap exists and address it systematically. Territory mapping software may help you manage overlap or eliminate it.

Territory Maps Organize Your Customers and Prospects
So many companies just total the sales at the end of the month and roll them up into legacy categories. Territory maps give you the opportunity to break outdated sales measurement structures and determine new ways of measuring success.

I like to compare sales to warfare. Progress in World War II was not measured just by how many battles were won, or by how many of the enemy had been killed; progress was analyzed by theater, by army group, by operation, and by front. It’s great to review overall sales numbers month-to-month, but a great sales general will review each territory and consider the customers and prospects located within that territory:
• How many new prospects and customers have appeared this quarter?
• How many new prospect have been contacted year to date?
• How many prospects have been converted to customers by a particular sales person and how does that compare to average conversions?
• Overall, where are we winning and where are we losing and why?
• Do we need more troops?
• Are our supply lines too long?

By asking questions about a specific territory a manager may find the answers she has been looking for – for a long time.

Territory Mapping Is an Exercise in Understanding Your Business
Data visualization is a commonly cited benefit to business mapping software. I’ve been selling mapping software for many years but this benefit just never gets old. Every day I witness people importing data onto a map and being surprised by what they see. Basic visualization is powerful. But more powerful still is the power of seeing your data and its relationship to other datasets – viewing spatial relationships. Territory mapping provides the structure that enables spatial analysis of your business data. Your data can be compared, and contrasted with other data layers:
• View your business sales by zip code and include Census population, and growth rates
• Compare business points with competitor locations and include median income by county
• Show all of your medical sales in the Northeast and include all hospitals
• Create a mapping software review of your business

These views tend to inform your business especially when considered over time, making you the better sales representative, sales manager and business owner.

Sales territory mapping software belongs in your arsenal of business tools alongside ERP, CRM, and SEO. Sales territory mapping software is well on its way to becoming business acronym worthy.

Www.MapBusinessOnline.com America’s fastest growing business mapping software.

Let a map help you learn about your business.

Filed under: Business Mapping Software blog post